5, Jul, 23

Breakout Strategy Showcases Hidden MTG Gems!

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Article at a Glance

Since the recent Standard bannings, there have been both a lot of new decks arising as well as some decks like Mono-Red Aggro that grew in popularity. During the initial week or two following the bans, aggressive decks like Mono-Red Aggro and Mono-White Aggro seemed to be in a dominant position. However, more and more midrange decks with Sheoldred, the Apocolypse have been popping up ever since.

With Fable of the Mirror-Breaker out of the picture, players have largely looked towards Mono-Black Midrange as the top option. This past weekend though, the top eight of both of the Magic Online Standard Challenges featured players playing green alongside the black-based midrange cards. It certainly makes sense that adding a color could help add some additional powerful options, but is it worth it? What does the deck gain over its mono-black counterparts?

The Mono-Black Core

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

At the center of almost every midrange deck in Standard lies four Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. This card is incredibly strong and can run away with the game on its own at only four mana. Of course, this means that it’s wise to run answers to opposing copies of Sheoldred, which is why this deck comes packed with four copies of Go for the Throat. Go for the Throat and Cut Down headline the removal package for midrange decks in Standard due to their efficiency.

Another elite midrange threat for black is Graveyard Trespasser, which makes it into this list as well. In order to make room for green, however, a few Mono-Black Midrange staples did not make the cut. Most notably, this includes Phyrexian Fleshgorger, which is a solid card against aggressive decks as a Lifelinking threat. It also dodges Go for the Throat and Cut Down as well as Destroy Evil, making it surprisingly difficult to deal with in this Standard environment. The deck also cut Liliana of the Veil, which was quite strong at whittling down the opponent’s overall resources. These cards would instead be replaced by some unique green Creatures that pack a punch.

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The Green Additions

Glissa Sunslayer

With Phyrexian Fleshgorger and Liliana out of the picture, there’s more room to run additional three-drops. Perhaps the best addition this deck gets at this slot is Glissa Sunslayer, a cheap card that really had no home during the dominance of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. Glissa is a super powerful card that is difficult to deal with without removal. As a Creature with First Strike and Deathtouch, this card dominates combat, killing anything in its path. This incentivizes the opponent to not block it, but that lets you generate card advantage either directly or indirectly by removing Enchantments or various counters on your opponent’s permanents, including Planeswalkers.

The other big addition to the maindeck that this deck makes good use of is Deeproot Wayfinder, another strong card that struggled to find a home. Deeproot Wayfinder is a solid two-drop that can ramp you as long as you have Lands in your graveyard and can connect in combat. While the card does let you Surveil one to try to find a land to put into play, the card works best with some additional support. It works especially well with Riveteer’s Overlook, which is a Land that can be played turn one, but instead of adding mana, gets sacrificed and lets you search for a Land tapped. Without Fetchlands or anything of the sort legal in Standard, this appears to be the best option. Still, it provides decent fixing and some nice synergy with Deeproot Wayfinder.

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Green Sideboard Cards

Tranquil Frillback

So far, most of the green cards that have been utilized are simply potential minor upgrades over the midrange threats available for black only. What the addition of green helps with the most is the ability to answer problematic permanents that black historically has a problem with. Mono-Black Midrange struggles against decks like Selesnya Enchantments, because the deck is simply incapable of removing opposing Enchantments. By adding green, you get access to cards like Tranquil Frillback and Fade from History that can cleanly deal with opposing Artifacts and Enchantments.

Tranquil Frillback especially is a cool addition because it’s a threat on its own but allows you to sink mana into it to destroy multiple Artifacts and Enchantments. Even outside of the Selesnya Enchantments matchup, being able to snag Leyline Binding from Five-Color Ramp decks or Wedding Announcement out of white-based aggressive and midrange decks is a big bonus. Of course, the addition of green does not come free, and it’s worth considering whether these additions are worth potential consistency issues.

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Mana Support

Deathcap Glade

The biggest cost to adding green, unsurprisingly, lies with the manabase. This deck has some tough mana requirements. For example, being able to cast Cut Down turn one and Deeproot Wayfinder turn two is easier said than done. A lot of the mana fixing available for the deck, like Riveteer’s Overlook and Deathcap Glade, do not enable you to cast Cut Down turn one. The deck still plays almost a dozen basic Lands, but that means that drawing a hand of only one color and having to mulligan will happen more than you might expect.

The biggest issue the deck has still lies with playing cards on curve. Deathcap Glade especially is great fixing, but simply does not enable early plays on curve. Mono-Black Midrange, by comparison, never has this issue. Mono-Black Midrange also has the luxury of running extra utility lands like Mishra’s Foundry that are great against decks like Esper Control that are on the rise. This begs the question: is playing green worth it?

This appears to be dependent on the metagame. In my opinion, the difference between running cards like Deeproot Wayfinder or staying with Tenacious Underdog is relatively minor. However, the ability to answer problematic Artifacts and Enchantments is a huge boon for this type of deck and can be important in a variety of situations. As the meta continues to evolve, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on this deck and what green brings to the table.

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